Slovo Park at a Glance

Slovo Park is situated in a politically and socially sensitive stretch of land south of Soweto. The community has been known by national government as Nancefield, by local council as Olifantsvlei and in the last five years as Slovo Park – named in honour of South Africa’s first minister of housing and former Umkhonto we Sizwe General, Joe Slovo.

The forced changing of identity reflects an on-going struggle faced by the leadership of Slovo Park to gain recognition as a legitimate settlement to access governmental support. This battle has been fought through constant shifts in governmental policy, power and promises for the community of Slovo Park. Their only tactics comprising of service delivery protest, painstaking formal requests for upgrade and currently a lawsuit against the City of Johannesburg.

Currently the community of Slovo Park with its development partners are strategizing this key social and political move.




Saturday, July 27, 2013

Community/Student Playground Painting Day

After arranging the student build day to prepare the truck for the project, the community and student build team arrived on site.

Paint was sponsored, and materials including the brushes, pans and cleaning items were donated from various sources.

The children were the most prominent members involved in the painting day, and were very enthusiastic to get involved.

In all, the painting was a great success, this is only the first step in the process. The structures and playground elements are in the process and will be implemented soon.



Monday, July 15, 2013

Concrete Skills

Early departure from Pretoria and straight to Al’s Hardware on Main Reef Road for the 5 bags that we didn’t collect the previous day and straight to Slovo to return Frans’ cement and try and complete the tire stairs. 

With help and guidance from the community and the kids and with some improvised detailing - we took Friday morning to complete the tire stair structure onto the back of the truck.

Adam took some lessons on smoothing concrete with the bottom of a spade under close inspection from Oompie standing by to jump in. He took on fast! I on the other hand took lessons from the ingenuity of the kids in their improvisation with the tires.

As we patiently await funds to procure the gumpoles – we’ll leave this to the kids to test out.

Initial Workings

After many hours spent in the studio and online, trying desperately to get a coherently structured and logical plan of action together we finally made a return to Slovo. We arrived in the early afternoon with little direction and a with many unknown unknowns regarding the planned build for the week but our attitude was – and still is – that we take it as it comes.

Mohau advised that the build overlap with concurrent Community Work Programme (CWP) clean-up projects led by Lerato and that they start digging the foundation holes for the gum pole columns in preparation for the build on Mandela Day. We were hesitant to proceed because many students would be away for this day but we took a chance and agreed to go ahead. So with spraypaint and stones we marked out the site and made our way back home to try and rally some more support and materials for the upcoming build.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Playground beginnings

With very few of the materials listed on our articulate bill of quantities secured we anxiously departed at the crack of dawn to try and make the most of the day. We set out with the intent to clear the site, ensure that foundation holes were dug and place the tyres – which we were sure to get for free.

Pitstops at various hardware stores dotted our journey to Slovo Park and we had arrived much later than expected, with much more in our hands than expected.

Upon arrival the CWP had braved the cold windy conditions and had already begun working on site finishing up the holes (forgetting a few) and doing a general clean up.

We immediately got working on sanding down the truck and trying to remove the broken windscreen. The sanding proved more difficult than it looked but with advice from Solomon we added some soap and water and the results improved. We had to abandon the windscreen mission due to the unsafe working conditions and worries of wind carrying glass all over the place.

While the students and community missioned on, Mohau, Lerato and I drove out to try and hustle some free tyres. We finally found some in Devland, packed the bakkie as tightly as we could and sped back to Slovo to start setting them out.

We unloaded the bakkie and did a brief layout of the intended tyre stairs to give the community an idea of what was intended. Mohau, Lerato and I then had to rush off once again to get some groceries for lunch and to try and organize some free paint, brushes and gloves for the community that was assisting.

Upon our return we were pleasantly surprised by the initiative taken by the community in setting out and digging a trench that would be filled with vertically placed tyres to demarcate the border of the playground. I advised that this endeavour be put on hold until we had a clearer idea of the extent of the grounds and that we should rather focus the energy on gathering some rubble to anchor the tyres for the stairs.

Julia and Sara had kindly volunteered to cook for us at Mapara’s while we continued working on site.

Nick had just arrived and because I’d been running around for most of the day – I asked him to go and fetch the 14 gumpoles that Dan (a fellow community member) had promised us from his workplace and the 5 bags of cement that we had been assured the previous day by Al’s Hardware on Main Reef Road.

As we awaited Nick and Mohau’s return many of us took it easy over some refreshments in anticipation of the meal that was being prepared. Arshad, Solomon, Oompie and I spotted some holes that hadn’t been dug and got to work on those.

The day took an unexpected turn upon arrival of Nick and Mohau back on site. A miscommunication with Dan guaranteed us not 14 gumpoles… but 14 gumpole stampers for compacting the foundations! This didn’t hold us back though. Nick pointed out that our plan to pour cement mix over the rubble in the tyres was flawed and that it would be better to use some sort of coarse aggregate in the mix. We then emptied out the larger pieces of rubble from the tyres and used the recently acquired stampers to then make aggregate out of the rubble for the concrete mix.

Without any cement and the somewhat dire situation at hand – we decided to take a break for a very late and well-deserved lunch.

Thanks to some quick thinking from Mohau we asked Frans to loan us two bags of cement that we promised to return the following day. He kindly agreed and we could get back to work on the tyre stairs.

After some contemplation with Nick about ratios of cement to sand and coarse aggregate appropriate for the mix we found ourselves outsmarted by the local knowledge and got to work on mixing, compacting and pouring.

After a windy and challenging day in Slovo Park - the foundations had been completed, the truck had been sanded down, the site has been cleared and we had started placing some of the tires for the steps onto the truck. The sunlight wouldn’t allow for more challenges today and we decided to continue the following day.

Playtime had just started for the kids though - they finally had their space back and already started finding fun even in the foundations holes of the playground to come.

Many thanks to UP quantity surveying students Arshad Karim and Onkgopotse Motaung for coming along and to Mica Celtis Ridge, Sync IT and Cashbuild Aeroton for their generous contributions.